HANGZHOU/KUWAIT: HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah arrived in Kuwait Sunday after attending the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou and holding official talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. HH the Crown Prince had a constructive and productive visit to Hangzhou, during which Kuwait and China signed seven memoranda of understanding over wide-ranging vital projects that would have positive impacts on development in Kuwait.

His Highness the Crown Prince's visit was at the invitation of President Xi to attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games, as well as holding summit talks over a host of mutual interest issues. This was the second time HH the Crown Prince met Xi since December in Saudi Arabia. Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Oil and Minister of State for Economic Affairs and Investments Dr Saad Al-Barrak described the visit as "very important" amidst the Kuwaiti government's quest to update its 2035 vision to be from 2024-40.

On HH the Crown Prince’s summit talks with Xi, Barrak said "we should make very good use of this important meeting to develop the foundation of Kuwait vision 2035 to be 2024-40". The vision, he explained, would "be an extension of the same spirit in order overcome the political and economic developments that took place in the past three years, like the coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine”. Barrak signed an MoU on the completion of Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port. "Around 50 percent of the first phase of Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port is completed and we seek to finalize the first phase in order to launch and operate the port as swiftly as possible," he said.

"China excels in construction and other domains like management and operation of the port, so we have signed the MoU and will continue the talks on execution," he said. Barrak also spoke of the "wonderful history" Kuwait and China shared, which began when Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah visited China when he was finance minister in 1965, to the establishment of relations in 1971, making Kuwait the first Gulf country to have relations with the People's Republic. Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Salem Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah said the MoUs would have positive impacts on development in Kuwait.

"We witnessed the signing of seven MoUs dealing with huge construction projects that include Chinese companies in Kuwait, among them are housing cities and renewable energy," Sheikh Salem said. He elaborated that MoUs also dealt with water treatment. The projects, he added, "will have huge impact on the State of Kuwait, and I believe they are projects that will indeed have direct and positive impact on our people". Speaking about the meeting between HH the Crown Prince and President Xi, Sheikh Salem said the talks were very "positive and productive", describing the atmosphere of the summit talks as "very amicable".

He said the two leaders discussed the history of bilateral relations and how to develop them further. "President Xi talked a lot about the history of China-Kuwait relations and highly appreciated the fact Kuwait was the first Gulf country to establish relations with Beijing in 1971, as well as the role of Kuwait Fund in offering loans to China in 1980s which contributed to projects in China," he said. The two leaders agreed to further boost relations and cooperation to higher levels, said the foreign minister.

The MoUs signed between the two countries dealt with a joint statement regarding a cooperation plan for 2024-28, establishment of a low-carbon recycling green system and infrastructure of water treatment stations. They also deal with power systems and renewable energy, economic and free zones, and development of housing projects. Minister of Electricity, Water and Renewable Energy Dr Jassem Al-Ostad said HH the Crown Prince issued clear instructions to construct renewable energy stations in order to provide clean and cheap energy on one hand, and honor Kuwait's commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 on the other.

Ostad called on the importance of changing to clean energy through environment-friendly projects. He noted that solar panels could be installed on roofs of schools and houses, and could be connected to the power grid. The minister cited similar projects in neighboring countries that proved to be successful. Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Housing Faleh Al-Ruguba said Kuwait would benefit from Chinese expertise to develop housing cities in Kuwait.

"The MoU will boost cooperation through work teams, exchange of visits and exchange of technical details," he said, with the objective of creating strategic cooperation to develop housing projects. The MoU would pave way for development of advanced housing cities as part of the government plans to provide housing care for citizens. During his visit, HH the Crown Prince also met with Huawei's executives, an audience described by Minister of Commerce and Industry Mohammad Al-Aiban as "very productive".

Kuwait, he told KUNA, sought to enhance cooperation with Huawei, a giant company with many projects around the world. HH the Crown Prince informed the Huawei executives about projects and urged them to continue providing information technology and communication (ICT) services to Kuwait, he said. "His Highness the Crown Prince promised to remove all obstacles facing them," said Aiban, with Huawei's executives showing keenness to contribute to the development plan 2023-27 and the New Kuwait vision. – KUNA